Grammy winner Sam Smith can pack his knickers in a Duluth Pack bag after his concert tonight in St. Paul. Xcel Energy Center teamed up with the Duluth-based manufacturer to gift the singer/song-writer a leather backpack.
The gifting tradition started almost the day the arena opened, says Jora Bart, Xcel’s media relations senior manager. In the early days, every artist would receive a custom Minnesota Wild jersey. “It was our way of wholeheartedly welcoming them to Minnesota and letting the artist know that we appreciated that they were here.”
But when singers started coming through a second or third time, “we started to get really creative,” Bart says.
Xcel works with many Minnesota companies to create personal gifts for artists: A custom-designed jacket for Lady Gaga; fur baby moccasins for new mom Kelly Clarkson. Rod Stewart is a model train aficionado, so when he performs at the X on Wednesday, he’ll receive a custom model train set. Bart says the plan is to set it up backstage so it’s running when he arrives at the venue.
For Smith—a master of the bittersweet love ballad—the Xcel team went back to one of its favorite Minnesota brands. Duluth Pack has handcrafted gifts for many performers, including Blake Shelton, Maroon 5, Dave Matthews Band, and Ellie Goulding. Smith will receive the leather standard backpack ($550), a top-selling style with a smooth black leather exterior and rivet details.
“Our hope is that as a fellow artist, Sam Smith will relate to the refined detail and craftsmanship of our product,” says Duluth Pack general manager Kyle Radich. “We hope he thinks of Minnesota every time that he utilizes his pack.”
Now, what to give Bruno Mars?